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Trained men show lower cortisol, heart rate and psychological responses to psychosocial stress compared with untrained men


Rimmele, Ulrike; Zellweger, Bea Costa; Marti, Bernard; Seiler, Roland; Mohiyeddini, Changiz; Ehlert, Ulrike; Heinrichs, Markus (2007). Trained men show lower cortisol, heart rate and psychological responses to psychosocial stress compared with untrained men. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 32(6):627-635.

Abstract

Physical activity has proven benefits for physical and psychological well-being and is associated with reduced responsiveness to physical stress. However, it is not clear to what extent physical activity also modulates the responsiveness to psychosocial stress. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether the reduced responsiveness to physical stressors that has been observed in trained men can be generalized to the modulation of physiological and psychological responses to a psychosocial stressor. Twenty-two trained men (elite sportsmen) and 22 healthy untrained men were exposed to a standardized psychosocial laboratory stressor (Trier Social Stress Test). Adrenocortical (salivary free cortisol levels), autonomic (heart rate), and psychological responses (mood, calmness, anxiety) were repeatedly measured before and after stress exposure. In response to the stressor, cortisol levels and heart rate were significantly increased in both groups, without any baseline differences between groups. However, trained men exhibited significantly lower cortisol and heart rate responses to the stressor compared with untrained men. In addition, trained men showed significantly higher calmness and better mood, and a trend toward lower state anxiety during the stress protocol. On the whole, elite sportsmen showed reduced reactivity to the psychosocial stressor, characterized by lower adrenocortical, autonomic, and psychological stress responses. These results suggest that physical activity may provide a protective effect against stress-related disorders.

Abstract

Physical activity has proven benefits for physical and psychological well-being and is associated with reduced responsiveness to physical stress. However, it is not clear to what extent physical activity also modulates the responsiveness to psychosocial stress. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether the reduced responsiveness to physical stressors that has been observed in trained men can be generalized to the modulation of physiological and psychological responses to a psychosocial stressor. Twenty-two trained men (elite sportsmen) and 22 healthy untrained men were exposed to a standardized psychosocial laboratory stressor (Trier Social Stress Test). Adrenocortical (salivary free cortisol levels), autonomic (heart rate), and psychological responses (mood, calmness, anxiety) were repeatedly measured before and after stress exposure. In response to the stressor, cortisol levels and heart rate were significantly increased in both groups, without any baseline differences between groups. However, trained men exhibited significantly lower cortisol and heart rate responses to the stressor compared with untrained men. In addition, trained men showed significantly higher calmness and better mood, and a trend toward lower state anxiety during the stress protocol. On the whole, elite sportsmen showed reduced reactivity to the psychosocial stressor, characterized by lower adrenocortical, autonomic, and psychological stress responses. These results suggest that physical activity may provide a protective effect against stress-related disorders.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2007
Deposited On:15 Oct 2012 15:46
Last Modified:18 Feb 2018 13:05
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0306-4530
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2007.04.005
PubMed ID:17560731

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